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The race for City Hall

Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

Chief Education Officer announces resignation

Less than a year after Mayor Rahm Emanuel hand picked Noemi Donoso as the chief education officer, the brusque administrator who hailed from out West is resigning.

A statement released Friday evening said that Donoso is leaving to pursue a national project to train the next generation of urban leaders. She said she has “profound respect and appreciation for this district’s commitment to young people.”

Much of Emanuel’s original education team is no longer in place. Earlier on, Chief Financial Officer Diana Ferguson left. And in recent weeks, Chief Community and Family Engagement Officer Jamiko Rose and CEO Chief of Staff Andrea Saenz both left.

CEO Jean Claude Brizard plans to have another Chief Education Officer in place by the end of May.

Prior to Donoso, the district had not had a chief education officer for a year and a half following the departure of Barbara Eason Watkins in April 2010. Under interim CEO Terry Mazany, Charles Payne served as interim chief education officer and wrote an education plan, which was never implemented. Donoso was charged with implementing a more rigorous curriculum and with helping schools prepare for new teacher and principal evaluations.

The official resignation follows weeks of speculation. Though she is resigning, CPS Spokeswoman Becky Carroll told the Chicago Tribune that a severance package is being worked out, which indicates that Donoso was forced out. Exactly what went wrong is unclear, but principals said they liked the fact that Donoso got out to schools, yet her approach was upfront and off-putting.

This is a corrected version of this story.


Uptown Teacher wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago


So the women who helped "create" the new teacher evaluation quit? Now we are all stuck being evaluated by a system created by a person who quit or was let go?? She probably wasn't "tough" enough on the teachers..Ok lets see in 5 years.

Daley Rahm

Duncan, Huberban, Mazany, Brizzard

Watkins, Donoso, Her replacement

The board? probaly 10 people

That's about 21 dicesion makers in 5 years???Politics has destroyed CPS at the top. Yet they all blame the teachers.......

Where is the rigor?? I thought rigor mean consistent growth with hard work . How can we have any constent growth with all of this madness?

Anonymous wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

reap what you sow

As a Principal that received one of Donoso's unannounced walkthroughs, I can attest to the fact that yes, she did actually visit schools - ...briefly. Typical walkthrough (as was mine and as I have heard from many others) was about 40 minutes, generally followed by 30 minutes of verbal lambasting in the Principal's office. It is simply impossible to grasp the depth of strengths and challenges of any urban school in this 'drive-by' fashion. The language coming from the new central office administration has been loaded with talk of 'support for the crucial role of Principals,' but in fact, that support has generally come in the form of rushed, spotty mandates and an often humorous amount of message control (scripts for parent meetings, letters to parents which MUST go home tonight, etc). This is the school district's central leadership, and yet Principals and other school-based staff are constantly 'explaining up' with common (and common sense) institutional knowledge that this group is woefully short of. There are plenty of highly talented people within the district with whom the city has invested millions of dollars in their career professional development and who KNOW our city schools. Please stop trying to impress us with 'star candidates' and just hire some of the smart people that we already have. If you don't know who they are -- ASK someone that actually works here.

Uptown Teacher wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago


Then The Principals lambast the teachers

and the teachers feel zero morale

and they have no energy to teach

so they just do the mandated routine like robots and the children suffer in the end!!

its very sad very sad!

i think principals need to join the teachers!!!

Anonymous wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

New principals strong arming teachers during evaluations.

Why does CPS allow new Principals to get teachers behind closed doors and make them agree to any lies they tell them to about their teaching process? Is that a form of harassment? How long does evaluations suppose to last? Is it wrong for the atmosphere to be calm? Does the Principal suppose to interrogate the teacher during an evaluation about their teaching styles? Especially if all the students have progressed highly? Does the Principal suppose to shout at the teacher behind closed doors. Who does a teacher report to about shouting matches by the Principal during evaluations? Is there a form? Is there a number to call? Is the checklist still the evaluation process for now? Yes these things are being done ; and CPS is allowing it or doesn't know. What happens to the teacher if this is reported to Chicago Public Schools?

lobewiper wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

Principal Strong-arming

I would contact my Teachers Union Field Representative for advice. Good luck!

veteran wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

Teachers Need to Stand Up

If a principal or anyone else is yelling at you- you need to:

Stand up

Say," If you continue to yell at me I will have to leave and we can reschedule this conference

If the person is still yelling, leave the room.

Write it up for your records

E-mail your administrator asking to have the conference rescheduled
E-mail and request that a CTU field representative or your school delegate sit in on the next conference

If this is a parent, file an incident report with CPS, keep the incident number and if you feel physically threatened by either an administrator or parent file police report immediately

Anonymous wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

Re: Uptown Teacher

Seriouly, Uptown teacher?

Do you teach your students spelling? It's spelled "decision" and you weren't even close!!!

What you defined is NOT rigor! Rigor is implementing curricula based on high standards with constant monitoring?

Yes, Donoso needed to go because she wasn't ready for her job and she had a personality of a prison guard. But it's teachers like you (and that equally crass Karen Lewis) that give the rest of us a bad rep. Could we be semi-intelligent even amongst ourselves?

Maestro wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago


Seriously, Anonymous? Let he/she without typo cast the first stone! If you are really a teacher, I hope your post is not indicative of your response towards a student who makes a spelling error. My observation is your post (and its tone) reveals more about you (and your ego) than any typo ever can.

Maestro wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago


Rahm needs to accept 100% responsibility for this epic fail of an appointment. This appointment was a complete rush job to pluck a person who would blindly follow Rahm's privatization agenda. She was completely overwhelmed from the beginning and lacked expertise in running a district the size of CPS. Watch her on "Chicago Tonight", she was nothing more than a mouthpiece, talking head for JCB and lacked depth and rationale on her arguments. CTU's Jackson Potter completely demolished her talking points on the show and left her visibly flustered. I wonder if our mayor will be bold enough to publicly admit his failures in "talent management".

Anonymous wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago


(Thank you Maestro for sticking up for me)! Good to see a little humanity in these tough times!

As quoted in Stripes “lighten up Anonymous”

We all make mistakes, especially when we are excited. It's funny I always press the too soon send my mistakes! The spelling thing was all the rage in the blog world years ago! I’d rather have my teacher be a bad speller than be self righteous! I get excited and start pressing any key! I am really not that bad of a speller! I am pretty easy going person. However, you sound a bit mean?
I was just sticking up for teachers and please excuse me! BTW look up rigor in the dictionary and study its etymology. I just think it’s funny they chose this word: Rigor had a former meaning I am afraid!! The new generation that has redefined this word! Hey you ever heard of Rigor Mortis? I am afraid it’s the same word! It was not originally a pedagogical term!

late 14c., from O.Fr. rigor (13c.), from L. rigorem (nom. rigor) "numbness, stiffness, rigor," from rigere "be stiff" (see rigid).

Anonymous wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

Talent Management

Any good leader that spent 30 minutes with Donoso could have predicted she would not last a year. She has no people skills and no clue how to lead a large urban district.

Danny V wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

Fact-checking Sarah Karp

Just a reminder to Sarah Karp that Charles Payne served as Chief Education Officer for just a couple months in the spring of 2011. Along with Terry Mazany, he wrote an education plan for the city, but no one in the incoming mayoral administration bothered to pay any attention to it.

Also, please check your second paragraph, Sarah. It reads as if some text is missing.

Danny V wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago
Anonymous wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

Rahm's Next Election

I wish a reporter would flat out ask Rahm (if it has i want to know his answer)

1) If you loved Chicago so much why did you rent your house out while you were in Washington (mind you it wasnt economics the guys worth millions)

2) If you love Chicago and it's people so much, why do you choose all of it's leaders from different cities?

3) And to Mr. Brizzard...why do you hire people who don't put children first? Any teacher who quits mid year is in danger of losing thier license?

4) And to Mr. Brizzard....are you going to reconsider our evaluation powerpoint now that Donoso has quit (or was fired)? Also, why does she get a severence package when you can't even buy new computers for the kids or let the teachers who stick around get thier contracted raise. If this is an economic crisis...then you must not honor her contract either?

Anonymous wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

Rahm would not answer; he does not have to.

He is Coriolanus Snow. Denoso ate the nightlock berries with a side of severance package.

Uptown Teacher wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago


take away our sick day bank but give a person with .75 years a severence package? im all for workers rights...but most workers dont even get vacation for a year?? Oh yeah Duncan got 50k in vacation for workin 5 years hahahahhaha

Ministry of Truth wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

Brizard created chaos in Rochester

It’s so different, one wonders about Brizard’s management style. Perhaps the former Rochester superintendent truly believed in large class sizes and limited electives. The only other explanation is he was incompetent, evil or lacked creativity.

Brizard is trained stooge to destroy pubic education so profiteers can walk in a '"save the day" Then there is Rahm the puppet of the ruling class as can be seen with his experience and complicity in the real estate melt down that caused the current economic collapse.

Disaster Capitalism - the free market policies of Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman have risen to prominence in some countries because they were pushed through while the citizens were reacting to disasters or upheavals. It is implied that some man-made crises, such as the Falklands war, may have been created with the intention of pushing through these unpopular reforms in their wake.

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Anonymous wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

There are no second parties allowed during an evaluation

conference. Though no one should have to deal with a boss who screams, it seems the teacher being evaluated may not understand the teacher evaluation process.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

teachers must keep quiet for now on???(

Here is what I have gathered from PERA/SB7 I would like someone who knows contract law to affirm or tell me i'm an idiot (i can take it)

but this is what i have learned....

If a teacher complains to CPS about a principal....and their is no backup from a large percentage of teachers, that teacher is going to lose any argument. His/her evaluation is going to be lowered if it is a heartless principal. Any principal that is yelling at an evaluation is probably pretty ruthless and cruel. I doubt any help from the Union or CPS will probably put a teacher in a deeper hole. (this is of course my opinion)

but here is the new law!!

Teachers have been stripped of their rights from sb7. Especially Chicago. Lower ratings will put teachers lower on the RIF list. Even if a teacher tries to appeal his layoff due to "fishy" business by a principal, they are really quite screwed as they need to take their case first to CPS board with a CPS paid negotiator. If the teacher wants to chose a mutually agreed negotiator he/she will have to pay for 1/2 of this negotiators fee? I can't even imagine what this fee would be for a negotiator (500 a day? does ctu pay this)?

Even if the negotiator rules on the teachers side, the negotiator only will make a recommendation to the board. The board (i don't even know what the board means? i guess their lawyers) can still fire the teacher. Then...... if the teacher wants to appeal this case...the teacher has to take their case to the Appellate Court . I am guessing at this point a teacher is looking at 10s of thousands of dollars. CTU couldn't (with all their power and lawyers) couldn't even get the unfairly laid off teachers reinstated in 2010. I can't imagine how a teacher could have the money or sophistication to take on an Appeal case to the Appellate Court.

In other words...teachers got to keep their mouths shut and take it all for now on! Tenure is dead ( I don't even know why it is even exists any more?) and it's all based on evaluations that can be changed to favor or disfavor any teacher!!!

Please this is a non lawyer's interpretation of Pera Law! I hope I am wrong...but it is scary!!!!

any one know??

Anonymous wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

Commentator above declines to mention or consider that there are

a few teachers who do not belong in a classroom with students. Tenure or not, there are a few teachers who do not know what they are doing, cause students to decline in learning and have no desire, interest or idea in improving. All professions have a few, from doctors to lawyers, who are incompetent in their practice. There are associations and boards that monitor this and when warranted, penalize, rehabilitate and/or remove
It falls upon school principals to evaluate teachers in a professional manner. During the evaluation process, there are many safeguards for the teacher in educational decline, including assistance from a CTU vetted consultant teacher for support as well as much documentation, protocols and due process to be followed.
If you are talking about formal employee discipline, the teacher has every right to have a representative there. It would be odd and detrimental for principals to try to stop the teacher from having representation during employee discipline.
That said, when it comes to evaluating the teacher in educational decline or incompetence, it is between the principal and the teacher first and foremost and as appropriate, the consultant teacher during the designated time period.

Uptown Teacher wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

of course

and there are a few principals who shouldn't be in a school either. but one controls 30 kids and one controls 100's! right now our contract allows for a consultant teacher. however, who knows what our new contract says? do you have some secret source? we may not have this luxury anymore in CPS's new contract.....and if you get 2 unsatisfactories in our new law you are OUT. I agree probaly 8/10 unsatisfactory teachers are just that bad teachers. but we ALL no very well politics play a HUGE role at cps and for them I am concerned!!

Uptown Teacher wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago


I meant know not no in the last line! And I just want to say what I am asking is just a wake up call for ALL teachers...we need to read this law and know it! The days of CTU control over our dismissals are over! We are also now being rated by students and thier test scores. There are so many many variables that the lanscape of teacher evaluations will change completely starting next year. We need to see how it goes. However, I just feel that we are in for a rough ride. Principals included!!! However, a teacher now has NO TENURE, NO SENIORITY. There is little the union or mentor teacher can do. A low rating in RIF season is like a very very bad for a teacher. Like I said, it isnt always the teachers fault that their rating goes with the new system there are even more variables out of thier control!!!

Anonymous wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

Know that there are many principals who are unhappy with the

new 'REACH' system. This is a top down your throat protocol with no differentiation based on school needs. Funny how CO requires teachers to do this in their classrooms and principals to pull rabits out of hats, but with LSD and new teacher evaluations, the top brass gives no support to princpals nor do they have any interest in lisenting to their pleas.

agree wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago


I bet if you showed the Reach overview to Dewey he probably wouldn't even recognize it as anything to do with education! Seriously! I don't think an educator who left education just 20 years ago would even know what to think of it? It's like a manual for some CIA protocol??? INSANE!! Well maybe finally the principals and teachers will unite and march against CPS's CEO CAO or whatever they call themselves!

Anonymous wrote 2 years 37 weeks ago

The grammar in this post is

The grammar in this post is horrible!

Lorraine Forte, Editor wrote 2 years 36 weeks ago


Danny, thanks for catching the missing word. As for Charles Payne, the story refers to Mayor Emanuel's education team--which Payne was not a part of.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 36 weeks ago

general observations from a former CPS parent

Many teachers in CPS are fabulous; most range from adequate to excellent. And I've met a couple who were brain-dead. Tenure is a wonderful thing, but it should be reserved for those who have demonstrated excellence in their profession. If I were a competent teacher, I'd welcome *some* of Rahm's reforms. It is good to have colleagues one admires.

My fear: the scythe will harvest the competent and incompetent alike. And if Donoso's system of teacher evaluations is bogus, the wrong people will be forced out.

Tenure wrote 2 years 36 weeks ago

Tenure doesn't protect "brain

Tenure doesn't protect "brain dead" and incompetent teachers. Poor administration and bad principals do that. Due process protections in the CPS/CTU CBA are incredibly weak.

I think the new evaluation system is on the whole an improvement, but it is still highly problematic. I know of a handful of outstanding educators in my building who are leaving the profession in part because of the direction CPS has taken over the last 10 years.

Unfortunately, outstanding educators are pushed out of CPS all the time. It's not the students, it's the system. Sadly, I don't see that changing for quite awhile.

stats guy wrote 2 years 36 weeks ago

Aspen Institute and Brizzard?

I don’t want to sound like some guy who believes in conspiracy theories, but I find it strange that Brizzard was a “fellow” at the Aspen institute? Then I see that the Aspen institute has, of all people, on its board…none other than one of the famous Koch brothers (the famous Koch Brothers)? Honestly, what is going on in at CPS? I find this all very strange? I have no idea what goes on when you are a fellow at this place, but it doesn't exactly look like and educators think tank. It looks more like a Billionaires club?? Aspen Inst. is also where John Edelman gave his famous SB7 speech were he bragged how he got Sb7 passed in Illinois? It's all very very strange? I feeling more and more like Teachers and Children may not really come first at CPS?...or at least the teachers come last? i know Substance has reported this before, but I just put 2 and 2 together myself?? I don't get it?

Chicago dad wrote 2 years 36 weeks ago

VAM component of evaluations

The test based component of evaluations is well beyond bogus and is solidly fraudulent. Also BOGUS is the fact that teachers are not part of the evaluation observation teams here as they are in places where observations alone are used and have been very successful in both removing first bad and then sub par teachers and consistently improving student outcomes.

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